MONTESSORI BIRTH-THREE TOYS AND MATERIALS - ORDER ONLINE
At this link it is now possible to order the The Joyful Child, which is a 70-page Montessori overview and catalogue of appropriate toys, tools, and materials for the home or school that support the Montessori philosophy for educating the child from birth to three years of age.
Every time a child is
it brings with it the hope that God
is not yet disappointed with man.
Rabrindranath Tagore, Poet Laureate of India and Montessorian
Today, young couples need all the help society can give them to prepare for
being parents. Geographically removed from family, isolated from neighbors,
tantalized by glamorized pictures of family life in the media, and usually
trying to maintain a good standard of living by both parents working, many
couples are ill-prepared for parenting.
It is becoming more and more obvious that the first three years of life have
the greatest influence on the entire life of a person. We must all share
what we know about this period of life with anyone who will listenfrom
adolescents to adults.
Great strides have been made in preparing parents for a more natural childbirth,
and in alerting them to the importance of breast feeding, but a couple also
needs more information about the first hours, days, months and years of life.
Time and energy put into the beginning of life is the greatest investment
anyone can make.
Communicating with the Baby
We know very little about what a baby really experiences during those nine
months in the womb, what he senses, feels, intuits, thinks about, understands.
But let us offer the best that we can, singing, playing beautiful music,
talking to him.
Experts who study the acquisition of language tell us that the basis for
learning oneís mother tongue begins in the womb. In the study of the
lives of great musicians it is often found that the exposure to good music
also began in the womb.
Parents who learn songs to sing to their babies long before they are born
find that these songs are very soothing to the infant after birth.
In 1995 I met with Mrs. Shinichi Suzuki, of the Suzuki Method of Talent
Education, in Matsumoto, Japan, to share ideas on environments for babies.
Just as with Montessori, the purpose of Suzuki is to create a loving relationship
between child and adult, to give the child the joy of accomplishment and
developed talents, and, by meeting the needs of children, to help create
a more peaceful society. We discussed the best way to help children and agreed
that our work must begin before birth. Today Suzuki parent education classes,
given to help parents prepare for their infants, are similar in many ways
to Montessori parent education classes.
The skin, the first and most important sense organ, is complete after seven
or eight weeks of pregnancy. The sense of smell is ready to function by the
second month of pregnancy. The sense of taste is active by the third month.
The ear completes its structural development during the second to the fifth
month of pregnancy.
It is possible that the fetus absorbs
the particular characteristic rhythms of the motherís language. In
a sense the fetus is already at work, learning language!
It is thus important to sing to the child even during pregnancy.
The brain's growth during fetal life is astonishing, with 20,000 cells being
added every minute. Dreaming begins at the end of the seventh month of
Silvana Montanaro, M.D., AMI Montessori teacher trainer
If you would like to see more information on Montessori theory and practice from birth to age 12 and beyond, links to lectures, information on Montessori teacher training, books and other materials for the home and school, and more, go to: The Michael Olaf home page The text on this page is reprinted from several different versions of The Joyful Child, with permission of The Michael Olaf Company.
Copyright 2009, The Michael Olaf Montessori Company
Please E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for reprint permission, but feel free to link this page to any site for educational purposes.
- Becoming Parents
- Preparing the Home to Welcome
- Communicating with the
- Preparation of the Adults
in the Environment
Welcome the Newborn
Of all the baby equipment on the market today which new parents often think
they need, very little is necessary or even good for the new baby.
I once watched the wonderful natural curiosity of a new kitten in our
house how it tested itself against the challenges of moving in every
possible way around the living room, carefully examining each object and
the best way for its body to move over, under, and around it. I was reminded
of watching babies moving freely in Montessori parent-infant environments.
Imagine how the natural development of kittens would be affected if there
were such things as kitten cribs with covers, kitten slings, swings, walkers,
How can one help babies to explore with their bodies, to develop grace and
confidence in movement? This is important to think about as you prepare for
a new baby.
While in the womb a child has already been exercising muscles and listening
to sounds. After birth she will learn to move on her own and to explore,
at first visually, and then with every physical ability at her command. At
first she will study the room with her eyes and ears and, after strengthening
arms and legs with baby push-ups, will head for the objects to explore further.
To support this visual and tactile discovery it is best if the child's room
can stay the same for the first year. So it is very important to put a lot
of thought into just how to arrange this environment.
As you go through the process of preparing baby's room, sit or lie in the
middle of it and then crawl around, listening and looking in all directions.
Will it be safe? Interesting? Beautiful?
The newborn will spend a lot of time exploring the environment visually,
but every child follows a unique timetable of being ready to crawl to those
things he has been looking at, so that he may finally handle them. This visual,
followed by tactile, exploration is very important for many aspects of human
development. We can help our child with this process by providing a clear
view and freedom to explore, if we provide a floor bed or mattress on the
floor and a completely safe room rather than a crib or playpen with bars.
It helps to think of this as a whole-room playpen with a baby gate at the
doorway and every square inch explored for interest and safety.
If the newborn is going to share a room with parents or siblings we can still
provide a large, safe, and interesting environment.
A bed should be one which the baby can get in and out of on his own as soon
as he is ready to crawl. Besides being an aid to development, this arrangement
does a lot to prevent the common problems of crying because of boredom or
Eventually he will explore his whole room with a gate at the door and gradually
the baby-proofed and baby-interesting remainder of the house.
These are the beginning stages of independence, concentration, movement,
self-esteem, decision-making, and healthful development of the body, the
mind, and the spirit.
Preparation of the Adults
in the Environment
Research has shown that the extent and quality
of care the mother provides the child are strongly conditioned by the way
they spend their time together during the first days after
Dr. Silvana Montanaro
When a couple is getting ready to have a first child they are about to take
on the most important role there is. It is strange that so much more time
and energy is put into preparing for a career, building a home, or other
adult endeavor, than into preparing to be a parent, when it is a far more
challenging and long-lasting role. It is very important to start studying,
before the child is born, about how to parent, especially during the first
three years of the child's life.
Many of us who had our children before encountering the wonderful Montessori
ideas, experienced grief that we did not know these things when our children
were born, indeed, that our parents did not know them when we were born!
Our first response, before observing the joy of children who had been raised
this new way, was quite naturally to defend how we had raised our children.
Seeing that this wisdom and these ideas really do make a differencein
the individual child, the family, and society as a wholewe are happy
to pass on the information to anyone who is interested.
The single most important element in an infant's environment is the loving
wisdom of the adult. Nothing material can substitute for time and attention
during these early months. We must provide, above all, a family who will
develop a long-term relationship with the child.
The earliest moments in life, the first minutes and hours, are the most
impressionable for both child and adults. This is the time when the basic
instincts of parenting are awakened, and the bonding and trust of the infant
is developed. Nothing is more valuable in preparing for a happy life.